I think I am one of the few ex-OUP travellers who has an extensive collection of Oxford In Asia Historical Reprints or OIAHR as we use to call it those days, other than perhaps the personal collection of my late big boss Raymond Earnest Brammah's (REB), M Sockalingam, Edda de Silva (former OUP KL Managing directors), Koh Seng Hwi, Jamaluddin Ishak and the British Museum (hahaha). Henry Yule: A Narrative of the Mission to the Court of Ava 1855 (OIAHR published in 1968) was one of the copies in my possession.
This is what Huge Tinker, School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, wrote in his introduction to the reprint in December 1966:
The genesis of the book lies in the Second Ango-Burmese War of 1852, which ended in the British annexation of the province of Pegu. Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India, was instructed by the Secret Committee of the East India Company to require the Burmese King to sign a treaty to formally recognising the annexation. After the war there was a palace revolution, and the unstable Pagan Min was replaced on the throne by his half-brother, Mindon Min, a prince with an enlightened and peace-loving outlook. In his view, the war had been between the British and his predecessor, and, far from accepting fait accompli of the British occupation of Pegu, he expected that, if he demonstrated his goodwill, the lost province would be restored. Against this background of misapprehension, diplomatic overtures commenced. A Burmese official mission was despatched to convey the greetings of Mindon Min to the Governor-General. After considerable delays in Rangoon, while the status of the mission was clarified, the envoys travelled to Calcutta (Kulkota now), being escorted by Arthur Phayre, the newly-appointed Commissioner of Pegu Province. Aftermuch stately manoeuvering, (27 November-28 December 1854) it emerged that the envoys were empowered to offer presents and greeting only. They had no authority even to discuss a treaty, and when at last they asked for the return of Pegu to the King, Dalhousie emphatically rejected their request.
The book is a journal of both Phayre (under-secretary) and Yule (secretary) of the British Civil/Administrative Service at the time. Hugh Tinker went on to say that Yule was dissapointed in his ambitions to scale the administrative heights and turned to scholarship and writing, specialising in medieval travellers in Asia. While Phayre continued in his solitary task of implanting British Administration in Burma until he quit in 1867 to spend a restless, wandering life, after he was unable to conclude a commercial treaty with the Burmese King and finally finding his true end, like Yule, in writing: in his History of Burma (1883)...
I like history, not so much memorization of the dates and events, but more of the histriography. The business and political implications. Business and politics are really interdependent. One affects the other, contrary to many popular belief that it should be separated. The intrigue, the diplomacy, deception et al. Burma was a great nation in those days and so was Sri Lanka or Ceylon it was known in those days. Alot of smart brainy intellectual chappies from Ceylon are here in Malaysia (my fren Tiru is a good example..always proud to be Ceylonese owh well Sinhalese...never wants to be confused with the Indians...hehe). Many became British Nationals. Remember Colombo Plan scholarships? U Thant? former Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) was from Burma and was as good, if not better, than Dag Hammerskjold, his predecessor. Ok, enuf of history...hehe. It is relaxing for me..not sure it's the same for you (evil wink). Enjoy the rest of the sunday, folks!....ciao